The Subaru Telescope on the big island of Hawaii, with its combination of a wide field of view and high spatial resolution, provided a clear delineation of the complex, wiggling streams in the comet's tail, they said.
Astronomers at Stony Book University in New York used the telescope to capture the image Dec. 3, when Comet Lovejoy was 50 million miles from Earth and 80 million miles from the sun, they said.
Astronomers and sky watchers have turned their attention to Lovejoy after Comet ISON did not survive its closest encounter with the sun at the end of November.
The visibility of Comet Lovejoy -- named for Australian amateur astronomer Terry Lovejoy, who discovered it in September -- has been increasing in the eastern sky and the comet will reach its closest point to the sun Dec. 22.
However, astronomers said, Lovejoy isn't expected to become as bright as ISON's maximum.
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